Posts by slapin

Leaning Left

March 23rd, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 33 comments

One of my granddaughters recently completed a homeschool assignment requiring her to tell a fairy tale from the point of view of one of the minor characters. She did a wonderful job relating Jack and the Beanstalk from Jack’s mother’s perspective. I think she may have a future in journalism.

I regularly scan a variety of newspapers and magazines. As part of that process, I view many news articles and opinion pieces from sources that pride themselves as being mainstream. Overwhelmingly, they tell news events from a Democrat and liberal perspective. Even the Wall Street Journal, whose opinion page skews right, presents the news as seen through liberal eyes.

As an example, look at the Gorsuch nomination hearings slated to begin this week. (I’m writing this on Monday so much will have happened by the time this appears, but it still serves as an illustrative example.) Despite unassailable consensus that he is qualified for the position of Supreme Court Justice, Democrats are either expressing opposition or threatening consequences for any legislator who doesn’t oppose him.

Are the headlines full of stories of Democrats being the “Party of no”? Do newspaper reports speak of bullying by the Democrat base and how harmful it is to our civilization? Are accusations of hatred and bias against white Protestants being hurled? Of course not. That would be the paradigm if a liberal president – shall we say by the name of Obama- nominated a liberal justice – shall we say Sonia Sotomayor or Elana Kagan, and the Republicans did anything other than bow in obeisance.

Here is another example. I have enjoyed reading Peggy Noonan’s column for many years. However, I think she is out of touch with reality. She recently wrote an article urging President Trump to reach across the aisle, citing the working relationship between President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill. Well, that sounds like a great idea. So does sitting back and watching Cheers while interspersing our conversation about Princess Diana with exclamations of amazement that people can actually talk on phones that aren’t connected to wires. Somehow, I don’t think any of those things will be happening again. If leading Democrats resembled Tip O’Neill, Daniel Moynihan or Scoop Jackson, Donald Trump wouldn’t be president. Yet even a conservative columnist like Ms. Noonan thinks that Republicans are the ones who need to bend. She sees events from the base point of the Left even if her head and heart place her on the right.

The popular radio show/podcast, This American Life, just featured a discussion with Mike Wilson, the editor of the Dallas Morning News.  Mr. Wilson, to his credit, wanted to understand the thoughts of those who berated his newspaper for having a liberal bias. He invited two men who wrote disapproving letters to discuss their criticisms. They articulated that they felt that the newspaper tried to be fair, but was blind to the staff’s prejudices.

Yet within the podcast episode (episode #612, the second to last story), lay an example of the very type of bias being critiqued. One of those upset with the Dallas Morning News, a local doctor, gave Mr. Wilson a specific example of a headline he felt was slanted along with an example of a liberal tilt he saw within the article that followed. Listening carefully, the editor responded to the first example saying, “I should speak to this. If we’re looking to find common ground in our conversation, we just found it…,” agreeing that the headline was inappropriate.  Mr. Wilson asked for further elaboration about what the reader found offensive in the example he showed within the article, and ended up saying, “That’s a good criticism.”

Yet how did the podcast end? With the interviewer asking Mr. Wilson if he felt bad because he hadn’t convinced his visitors that the newspaper wasn’t biased. Excuse me? How about asking if he had learned that he needed to be more aware of the bias that does exist. Even after working on the episode, the producer for This American Life wasn’t able to see that he was viewing the issue through a distorted lens.

Do the New York Times or the Washington Post or yes, even the Wall Street Journal, want to know why I turn more and more to right-leaning sites? It is because I am so tired of finding myself still seen as a minority voice constantly on the defensive. Despite the fact that November’s election results highlighted how much the news media is out of touch with vast sections of America, there has been no change. The best of them still seem unaware of how parochial they are. Maybe their assignment should be to write every article from many different perspectives and publish them all. Let the reader discern the truth from that mix. Like my granddaughter, they might actually begin to understand a different point of view.

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No matter what point of view you are expressing, how you express it matters a great deal. There is still time to  take advantage of our $5 download sale on

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Behind Every Great Man…

March 16th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 50 comments

Quick! Is this a complimentary statement or an insult? “Behind every great man stands a great woman.” I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking about this phrase. How exactly do I feel about it?

While I haven’t tried this experiment, I conjecture that if you asked college students what they think of those words, most would dismiss it as a relic of patriarchy. After all, it reeks of a time when women weren’t expected to be great themselves but only support staff. A variation of the saying is , “Behind every successful man there is a woman,” but this only emphasizes the potential problem even more. (For the purpose of this conversation, I am going to focus on wives rather than mothers, not because I underestimate maternal influence but because that’s a different discussion.)

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Addendum to Purim Musing

March 10th, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind 8 comments

Important: Do not read this if your maiden or married name is Lapin or if you are married to a Lapin. For everyone else, I’ve got to tell you what happened. Carlisle, while your scone recipe would have solved my baking problem,  I needed a frosted cake for the Sunday Purim feast because I had made books from fondant to go with our theme and they will sit on the frosting. (I do hope to try the scone recipe another time.) We will be about forty people, so I actually need two cakes. I found a chocolate cake recipe that, doubled, called for everything I had in the ‘couldn’t use for the hamentaschen’ bag and it was a mix in one bowl recipe. Perfect! Of course, I had to add other ingredients too. Lots of them. And then – and I promise you that I am not normally a scatter-brained individual – I forgot that I already had baking powder and baking soda in the mix and I added them. Do you know how if you put in too much salt or too much sugar you can adjust a recipe? Well, when you put in too much baking powder or too much baking soda, the advice is to throw it out and start over! It will make your cake bitter. AARGH! This is why you should not read this if you are going to be at the Sunday special meal. I tried scooping out as much baking powder as I could and I am going to bake it anyway. I will at least have a base for my fondant creations and everyone will have had so much sugar through the day anyway that if the cake is inedible so be it. Please keep my secret and don’t think too harshly of me.

The Great Purim Baking Caper

March 9th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 135 comments

Today, I originally planned to write about immigration, which I would categorize as a political topic. But then, I started baking the Purim cookie known as hamantashen and things went so wrong that I thought I should share that experience with you.  I would categorize that topic as a family/personal Musing. While I much appreciate the regular feedback I get on my Musings, very, very, very few readers actually write comments on our website. I have no way of knowing if more people grimace in disappointment when the topic is political or social or whether a greater number shake their heads when I get personal, muttering, “I don’t really need to hear that.” So, until thousands more of you comment letting me know where your interests lie, I will continue to write about whatever is plucking at my mind and heartstrings.

I just spent four hours making cookies that are not as beautifully shaped (pictures below) and possibly not even as tasty as ones I could buy for $2.99 a dozen. If you don’t understand this, you are probably not female and cannot be (on this issue at least) what Anne of Green Gables would call a kindred spirit.

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Jonathan and David – something hidden?

March 8th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 19 comments

Question:

I have now been following you for some years and always enjoy reading your writings or listening to your podcasts. 

Recently, I was sharing with a friend about the deep friendship that existed between David and Jonathan, which I had always interpreted as nothing more than friendship, when I was struck to see the amount of writing suggesting that they actually had a homosexual relationship. I was wondering what the Jewish interpretation(s) were of the various passages between 1 Samuel 18 and 2 Samuel 1 referring to the relationship between the two. 

Would you be able to shed some light? It would be so appreciated. Such an interpretation would appear to go completely against Leviticus 18:22, and I could not help but wonder why God would have retained David as King if what he did was detestable before God. When David sinned with Bathsheba, God rebuked him and David repented. But regarding his relationship with Jonathan, I do not see any rebuke from God.

Jean-Pierre

Answer: 

Dear Jean-Pierre,

There is a reason we speak of ancient Jewish wisdom rather than modern Jewish wisdom. It is not because the wisdom is applicable only to those who lived long ago or because there can be no fresh applications to our time. We firmly dispute both those mistaken ideas. However, everything must be grounded in the written and oral Torah transmitted from God to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Original thinking comes in applying the ancient wisdom to new circumstances, not in ignoring or negating it. 

We find Secular Fundamentalism’s desperation to find validation for their moral squalor in the writings of Scripture to be fascinating.  Do we care if there is any validation for our views in the writings of, say, Karl Marx.  Of course not! Because we have little regard for him.  Secular Fundamentalism’s yearning for Biblical validation reveals the deeply embedded, perhaps subconscious, respect they actually do have for the Bible.

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Bomb Threats Revisited

March 2nd, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 23 comments

When I was in high school, a relatively uncommon but not unknown phenomenon were bomb threats called in to my Jewish school. We dutifully evacuated the building while the police searched the premises. I remember feeling more delight at a break in routine than concern. Had the student body been polled I think more of us would have guessed that the threat originated with a fellow student trying to avoid an algebra exam rather than with a terrorist. 

Fast forward to the past few weeks where Jewish schools and community centers have been targeted with warning phone calls. Things look rather different from an adult perspective. I doubt they are signaling a serious physical threat. Terrorists of the past two decades such as those who orchestrated 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing or Fort Hood have not politely telephoned warnings of their intentions allowing lives to be saved.

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Three Cheers for Generation Z

February 23rd, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 16 comments

Can a video make you want to cry and cheer at the same time? Well, that was my reaction to this amazing video created by sixteen-year-old Autumn in reaction to a foolish and, dare I say, downright evil, article that ran in Teen Vogue magazine trivializing abortion. 

In her video, Autumn discusses the idea of female empowerment, dismissing the claim that ridding yourself of the bone of your bone and flesh of your flesh is empowering. Even if, to some degree or other, you accept abortion, each one is a tragedy not a triumph.

You won’t be shocked to hear that I do not read Teen Vogue. Nevertheless, Autumn’s video led me to take a look at its webpage. Here is their tag line: “The rebellious, outspoken, empowering magazine that you need right now.” A quick look at the titles suggested that their definition of rebellious is  walking in lock-step with academia, entertainment and most of the media. Outspoken, I grant them. Nevertheless, my biggest question had to do with the word empowering. 

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On Rabbis and Immigration (Guest Musing)

February 16th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 33 comments

I am delighted to share my Musing platform with Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt. You will soon hear more about Rabbi Rosenblatt who we are delighted to welcome as director of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians (AAJC). He shares our passion for and commitment to an America firmly based on Judeo-Christian values. Like us, he is deeply troubled when Judaism is misrepresented as modern liberalism. He was moved to compose the following piece.

On Monday, February 6, some 200 rabbis and rabbinical students protested outside Trump International Hotel in Manhattan.   19 of them blocked traffic and were arrested for disorderly conduct.  The group was protesting President Trump’s executive order placing a 90-day hold on immigration from seven countries which lack adequate security programs to vet the peaceful nature of visa holders: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of Teru’ah, the left-wing rabbinical group that organized the protest, said it was meant to show that many Jews oppose the ban.

“We remember our history, and we remember that the border of this country closed to us in 1924, with very catastrophic consequences during the Holocaust.  We know that some of the language that’s being used now to stop the Muslims from coming is the same language that was used to stop Jewish refugees from coming“, she said. 

As the great-grandson of a rabbi who immigrated to the United States in 1924 because of religious persecution, these words caught my attention.

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Wanna Talk About Me

February 9th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 35 comments

Toby Keith’s country music song, I Wanna Talk About Me always makes me laugh. It stops being funny when it isn’t about a guy who says to his girlfriend, “I like talking about you, you, you, usually, but occasionally I wanna talk about me,” and instead represents the plea of children to the adults in their lives.

We live in strange times. Many parents are clueless. In the 1940s, Mama’s Bank Account was a popular book. Renamed as I Remember Mama it became a movie, play and TV show. It was a peek into author Kathryn Forbes’ Norwegian grandparents’ lives as they raised a family in the United States. The title story, if memory serves me correctly, was how her grandmother frequently spoke about a bank account that could be accessed in an emergency, thus providing her children with a sense of financial security. Only when the children grew up did they find out that there wasn’t really any savings account and how vulnerable they truly had been.

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Gratitude and Gorsuch

February 2nd, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 66 comments

I must open this Musing with gratitude. Gratitude to those of you who wrote such lovely comments after last week’s Musing and to those of you who thought of writing but never quite did (been there done that). I am truly honored by your friendship. Many of you also sent lovely notes and heartfelt prayers just one year ago when our daughter had emergency surgery and delivered her son prematurely. I’m filled with gratitude to you and overwhelmingly to God for the good health they both now enjoy that can make those scary days seem much longer ago than they actually are.

Like most Americans, I only heard about Judge Neil Gorsuch recently. Not to worry—a quick search brings up any number of articles with titles such as, “Seven Things to Know about Judge Gorsuch,” or “Five Important Facts about the Supreme Court Nominee.” Scanning those articles didn’t answer my main question.

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